Sci/Tech briefs

Research deciphers images in brain

Scientists have come up with a new method to model images based on neural activity from the subjects. In the future, this technique could possibly lead to the development of devices like dream readers or thought-controlled computers.

In the study, published in the journal Neuron, researchers collected fMRI data, which measures blood flow in the brain, from three subjects as they looked at pictures of ordinary objects and scenes. Later, after coming up with a model based on this data, the subjects looked at another set of pictures, and by analyzing the neural output, the researchers were able to pick the corresponding pictures from a set of around 6 million images.

Source: Wired

Data shows water on moon

Data from three different spacecraft show that there may be water on the moon. The most recent space mission to show that the moon contains water was India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission. Chandrayaan-1 collected data of the sunlight reflected from the surface of the moon and found that light was absorbed at the wavelength at which water normally absorbs infrared light.

Data was also analyzed from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which passed the moon nearly a decade ago, and from the Deep Impact spacecraft. Analysis of data from the Cassini spacecraft indicates the presence of hydroxyl molecules mostly at the poles on the moon. Data from the Deep Impact spacecraft also indicates that the absorption of light changes with differences in temperature.

Source: The New York Times

MIT develops eye implant

Researchers working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed an eye implant that could help restore vision to the blind. As of now, the implant has been designed for patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration.

The prosthetic device makes up for a damaged retina by electrically stimulating the nerve cells that normally carry the visual stimulus from the retina to the brain.

Although such a device cannot completely restore vision to the visually impaired, it can help them perform daily tasks, such as navigating through a room, far more easily.

Source: ScienceDaily

New find strengthens dinosaur-bird link

Chinese scientists have found new evidence that agrees with the hypothesis that birds descended from dinosaurs. The researchers have found a very well-preserved fossil of a dinosaur species known as Anchiornis huxleyi. The fossil shows that the species had four wings and also had feathers.

This finding indicates that that the Anchiornis huxleyi could be the missing link between dinosaurs and birds. Anchiornis huxleyi was present even before the Archaeopteryx, which is considered to be the earliest bird. Since bird-like features were found in the Anchiornis huxleyi, it indicates that features resembling birds were present in the early dinosaurs as well.